My first coffee cupping. Roasters: The sometimes exotic Phil and Sebastian, interesting Counter Culture Coffee, delicious Transcend Coffee and strong April Coffee
The day has finally come! Today will be the day I put my taste buds through a challenge. I’m exited, yet nervous. I have no idea what to expect. I did get a bit of a preview the last time I visited Arvo Coffee. One of the baristas challenged me to decipher the different notes in the pour-over coffee he made for me. I didn’t do too good then. Hence my feeling a bit self-conscious as I arrived at Arvo's. I thought I was going to be the only newbie and indeed I was. The internet makes it very easy for anyone to find information and quickly become a knowledgable snob on any topic they desire. I, however prefer to learn the old fashioned way. Good ol' human interaction. The best part about having this blog, besides learning about coffee, is meeting new people. Although the other six people in the room were way more well-informed about coffee than I was, we all had something in common, we were all on a journey to find good coffee.
Everything was set out before us, six different kinds of ground coffee waiting for hot water to be poured over them. Everyone was ready and excited to start. Our host and coffee shop owner, Justin Carrière was equally excited to begin. Before we started with the coffees he introduced us to a new drink. It's called Cáscara (yei, spanish!) and literally translates as "shell". In English it is called coffee cherry tea. If you are anything like me you might be wondering if this is tea or coffee. Well the answer is neither. Made out of the sun-dried shells of the coffee cherry this drink is somewhere in-between. It does come from the coffee plant and it does have caffeine. It's fruity flavour is a delight to the taste buds. It truly encompasses the best of both worlds. While its caffeine amount is surprisingly lower than brewed coffee, you can still really feel the effect after a couple of cups.
After the Cáscara experience, we went onto the cupping (tasting). We would be trying coffee from Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Ethiopia, Kenya and New Guinea. Our roasters this afternoon were:
- Phil and Sebastian ( Canada )
- Counter Culture Coffee ( US )
- Transcend Coffee ( Canada )
- April Coffee ( Copenhagen)
It should be noted that all of these were filter coffees (as supposed to espresso). Since this was a practice exercise, we had 12gr. of each. It might have not been the ideal brew for all of them but this was just for quality control. Green buyers usually use this brewing method while at source. It basically consists of pouring hot water over ground coffee, letting it sit for about 4 mins (on average), and removing the crust. Make sure to enjoy the smell of the different notes while removing the crust (watch out not to burn your nose).
We were about to try the coffees for the first time. Justin explained that is important for a good coffee to have the right balance. Sweetness and acidity are the two factors we will recognize at first. Just like wine tasting, with coffee, you can find notes of fruity, flowery and spicy notes among many others. Our host wouldn’t tell us which one was which but he did show the proper cupping technique, the sniff and slurp (the louder the better). Brings to mind professor flitwick's "swish and flick" to all the HP nerds out there. This allows the coffee to spread all the way to the back of your tongue. Without preconceived ideas of how the coffee “should” taste we were all able to come up with similar results. Below you will find chart with my final thoughts:
Acidity is predominant in this coffee and sticks with you all the way to the aftertaste. With a savory and almost spicy flavour. You can expect to find slight hints of sweet, citrus and stronger earthy notes.
It was funny that this two coffees were next to each other. With a not-as-acidic flavour, this coffee showed hints of tropical fruits.
A unique kind of roast that comes from peaberries. With a bit of a tart and kind of woody flavour. Most of us agreed that despite being rated as exotic, this would make a great everyday coffee!
The big time favourite of the day! With intense nutty and almost chocolaty notes. This coffee was smooth to the taste and absolutely yummy!
Florals are well distinguished in this one. This was the coffee the barista made for me the last time I was here. I could feel notes of apple but then I realized it was more of a pear taste. You can also expect to find some syrupy sweetness.
The most interesting flavors of them all. With strong herbal and jasmine like notes. The aftertaste is somewhat earthy like a tea.
All I have left to say is a big thank you to Arvo Coffee for having me once more. Your passion and drive to share your knowledge on coffee culture is amazing. And so are all the lovely staff I’ve had the chance to meet. If you are not careful, you might have me around way more often! Until next week everyone!